Like rain on a newly mown field


Psalm 72

Photo credit: dkbonde

Photo credit: dkbonde

6 He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.

You do not want the rains to come until the harvest has been gathered.  But after the reaping and threshing and winnowing and storing, after the poor and landless have come to glean, after the offerings are made and the bounty of God celebrated, as the farmer looks over the land and the beauty of the mown field, the winter rains come as the crown of blessing to soak the land in preparation for the year to come.

The thirsty fields drink in the rain.  The hills green.  The watercourses run.  The wells are renewed.  The cisterns fill.  Prosperity abounds.  Everything is right with the world.

When a just king rules, when rulers govern with God’s righteousness and faithfulness, when the poor are protected, when truth is spoken, when the lawless are restrained, when the needy are delivered, when justice reigns, all is right with the world – like the winter rains watering the mown fields.

The psalm is both prayer and proclamation.  It arises as a prayer for the new king, that he may rule with justice and righteousness.  But it is also a promise that such a king shall come.  So one translator says, “May he rule…” and another says, “He will rule…  He will deliver…  He will take pity…”

It is easy to see in this psalm the hyperbole of court musicians fawning praise on their masters.  But the words are preserved through the generations because they are heard as promise.  The just king shall come, the good shepherd, the righteous one.  And the destiny of Abraham’s descendants shall be fulfilled, for all nations will come to honor such justice.  They will bring their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.  They will bow down.  And the Spirit of God shall reign in every land.

Before this promise the human heart trembles.  We know the world’s brokenness.  We can imagine a world set right.  And we who confess the name of Jesus proclaim that he is the one in whom that reign of faithfulness has begun.  The hungry are fed.  Debts forgiven.  Communities restored.  Evil spirits driven away.  The grave opened.

So with the magi we bow, and we offer our prayer, “May the just king’s righteous reign be made manifest in me.”

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